WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - It took three sets and three shirts.
It took more than two hours, several ice bags, a wet towel, and a change in strategy.
But at the end of a long and grueling match at the end of a long and grueling day, Moorestown senior Hamza Husain emerged with a victory to clinch the Group 3 state boys' tennis title for the Quakers.
"I'm dead tired," Husain said after his three-set victory provided the decisive point in Moorestown's 3-2 triumph over Demarest on Wednesday.
The state title was Moorestown's 13th in 40 seasons under coach Bill Kingston and the Quakers' first since 2008.
"These are hard to get," said Kingston, who was overcome with emotion when his team clinched the crown. "When you work as hard as these guys worked to get this one, it makes it all the more special."
It was a gut check of a day for the Quakers (28-5), who battled through two tight matches as temperatures rose to near 90 degrees at the Tennis Center at Mercer County Park.
In the semifinals, sophomore No. 1 singles player Ryan Dickerson clinched a 3-2 victory over Hopewell Valley with a three-set triumph.
"You couldn't have scripted it any better," Kingston said. "Both matches were 3-2. Both went down to the third set in the final match."
With the semifinal tied, 2-2, Dickerson rallied from a 0-1 deficit in the third set, winning six straight games to defeat Hopewell Valley senior Kenny Zheng, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, and send the Quakers to the state final.
The match took around 2 hours and 40 minutes, and Dickerson was mobbed by his teammates after an emphatic overhead smash for the final point.
"This is his team, and he came through big-time," Kingston said of Dickerson.
In the title match, Dickerson and No. 2 singles Tyler Blessing won in straight sets.
But Demarest won both doubles matches, and that meant the state title would be decided by the third singles competition.
"I definitely felt the pressure," said Husain, the No. 3 singles player.
Husain lost the first set to Demarest's Brandon Buksbaum. Husain also had lost the first set in the semifinals, but rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
"I had to change my approach," Husain said of the final. "I was trying for too many winners. I had to be more patient."
The match was played during the hottest time of the day, in a blazing sun. During changeovers, Moorestown assistant coach Steve Dickerson, Ryan's father, draped a wet towel over Husain's head and put ice bags on his head and stomach.
Husain went through three shirts - from gold to black to gold again - to stay comfortable.
"It was like heaven," Husain said of the ice bags.
Husain dominated the second two sets, winning the match by 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
As Dickerson was after the semifinal match, Husain was mobbed by teammates after his victory.
"It was character and guts," Kingston said of Husain's performance. "I can't say enough about him."
Shawnee falls in Group 4. Junior No. 1 singles Justin Kang split his match, but the Renegades dropped a 41/2-1/2 decision to undefeated Montgomery in the Group 4 state semifinals.
"We were here last year, and we lost five kids from that team," Shawnee coach Jim Baker said after his Renegades finished 20-2. "Now we'll have five players back from this year's team, so we've turned that around.
"These guys worked hard, and they kept working hard all season long."
Haddonfield out in Group 2. Sophomore second singles Tommy Dodson and junior third singles Isaac Anderson split their matches, but the Bulldogs lost by 4-1 to Holmdel in the state semifinals.
Haddonfield finished 31-6 despite losing second singles player Mike Alberto for the season to an ankle injury in mid-April.
"We played tough competition to try to get better and prepare for this level," Haddonfield coach Jeff Holman said. "They [Holmdel] were just a little better than us."
Haddonfield should return five of its top seven next season.
"I saw a lot of growth in this team this year," Holman said.
Haddon Heights falls in Group 1. Third singles John Booker and the second doubles team of Chris Iacono and Josh Booker, John's brother, scored victories, but Haddon Heights dropped a 3-2 decision to Highland Park in the state semifinals.
Haddon Heights senior No. 1 James Hicks lost, 6-0, 6-2, to Maverick Lin, the No. 1 seed in the state singles tournament.
"There was no pressure," Hicks said of playing Lin. "It was pretty fun. I could hit with him."
Haddon Heights finished 19-4 and captured the program's first sectional title since 1974.
"It was a year to remember," Hicks said.